Press release: Development banks claim to tackle climate and energy crisis while funding fossil fuel

19 March 2007

Multi-lateral development banks that yesterday concluded a two day conference in London [1] have been strongly criticised by international NGOs for claiming to tackle global climate change and the renewable energy financing gap while continuing to channel billions into harmful fossil fuel projects.

The World Bank was upbeat about having kept its commitment to increase renewable energy and energy efficiency by 20 percent since 2005. However, a closer look at the figures in its recently published implementation report on the Extractive Industries Review reveals an increase in 2006 of more than 40 percent in its extractive industry operations, and a 52 percent jump in the extractive industry investments of the International Finance Corporation – the World Bank’s private sector lending arm. [2]

Petr Hlobil, Campaigns coordinator of CEE Bankwatch Network, said: “These new alarming figures reveal the stark deficiency of the World Bank’s Investment Framework and further deepen the gap between the billions that keep being thrown at fossil fuels and the crumbs that end up at the doors of the renewable and energy efficiency sectors. And it’s clear that renewable energy can not be financed via the carbon markets alone.”

renewable energy can not be financed by carbon markets alone

Daniel Mittler, from Greenpeace International, added: “It is nothing short of hypocrisy for development banks to talk about combating climate change while channelling billions into fossil fuel projects. The banks claim that coal can be part of a sustainable energy future, which is like saying that cancer can be part of a healthy body! The multi-lateral banks must provide the necessary technical, financial and policy support to member countries to catalyze huge investments for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in those countries, the kind of support that’s been enjoyed by the fossil fuel industry for decades.”

Graham Saul, International Programs Director for Oil Change International, said: “You can’t actively subsidise fossil fuels and effectively fight climate change at the same time. Unless we see a dramatic change in the business as usual approach, this conference will have failed to help create the much needed shift away from oil and fossil fuel subsidies and towards renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

The conference “Financing clean energy: a framework for public-private partnership to tackle climate change” was hosted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London and brought together “public and private institutions to work together more closely to meet future energy needs and combat climate change”. It failed to fully involve renewable and energy efficiency companies and relevant civil society organisations involved in energy and development issues.

Following criticism, however, the EBRD invited a small number of NGO representatives and European renewable and energy efficiency associations at the last minute, though they were significantly outnumbered by representatives from the likes of Shell, Chevron, Dupont, EDF and Suez.

Petr Hlobil, Campaigns coordinator of CEE Bankwatch Network, said: “This exclusive door policy deployed by the so-called development banks here is staggering at what is a crucial time for making real progress on the issue of climate change and energy poverty. A continued focus on fossil fuel technologies will neither bring about the required shift to a carbon-free development path, nor bring energy services to the 1.6 billion people who have no access to modern energy and often live far away from electric grids.”

For more information, contact:

  • Petr Hlobil, CEE Bankwatch Network, Czech Republic, Tel: + 420-274 816 571, Email: petrh at
  • Daniel Mittler, Greenpeace International, Germany, Mobile +49 171 876 53 45
  • Email: daniel.mittler at
  • Graham Saul, Oil Change International, US, Tel: +1-613-558-3368

Notes for editors:

1. The conference was jointly organised by the EBRD, the World Bank Group, the World Economic Forum and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and attended by approximately 100 participants, including representatives from multilateral development banks, private investment banks, European governments, and European and Japanese companies. As part of the Gleneagles process, the World Bank presented an Investment Framework at its annual meetings in September 2006 which purportedly aims to increase access to energy in developing countries, reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector, and assist developing countries to adapt to climate change. International NGOs have been strongly critical of the Framework for letting northern polluters off the hook, its skewed definition of “clean energy” and the dangerous energy scenarios on which it is based.

An NGO critique of the framework, published in September 2006, is available at: